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Satirist seeks Patron

Recovering in the Dumpster this morning with the kind of headache only the cheapest wine can inflict, I was hit with an almost irresistible thought, given my lost life as a literary critic. What if I were to write a "critique" of PMA, Esquire's, ouvre, at Trusts and Estates, asking who is her lineage? As for themes: The School of  James Hughes. As for genre and style: Talk of the Town (E.B.White in The New Yorker at its zenith), Dr. Johnson's peripatetic essays in The Rambler, and Horace, Sermo 1.9 (Horace and the Bore). One strand via Hughes: that of The Bore,  who would be the Most Trusted Advisor, The Privy Counselor, and Man of all Work to Augustus, or at least Maecenas.  (The Roman term for such loyal retainers was "parasite," not a term of respect, admittedly, but look whose talking.) The other strand in PMA is the "virile plain style" of the neoclasscial tradition of the honest man, the plain dealer, the moralist, the candid insider, writing in an easy way for others who are, or think they are. Such a self-respecting person speaks truth to power, and is admired for it by the leader who might behead those whose lips tremble at the moment of truth. Yet, PMA is a woman? That, too, and that is why her work in "family dynamics," and "family governance," or home economics, resonates. The language of strategic reason, the languages of love. Love of the arts, included. Of course, if this post could be blown up to the size of a Doctoral Dissertation in English Language and Literature, I might yet be Dr. Phil, in sky blue robe with the dark blue and gold slashes, and monk's cowl, though I have no pants and am barefoot, as befits an Honest English major with a degree in Philosophy.

For those Trusted Advisors, or Consiglieres, or Secular Priests, new to lit crit, just one question: In PMA's recent essay, "Are You "Wealthy'?," blowing up the School of Hughes, blasting its foundation (unwavering fidelity to the wealthiest, doglike loyalty to the Patron), she happens to leave a meeting of The Bores Who Serve Billionaires, and gets better advice on wealth, wisdom, virtue and happiness, from a cabbie. Was there really such a cabbie? What if she made that up? What if the Bore in Horace is made up, more a 'type' of  the eternal parasite than an actual trusted advisor wannabe on a particular street in Rome 2,000 years ago? Would it be contrary to the editorial policy of Trust and Estates to publish fiction? Could it countenance satire, towards which the style of Horace, Dr. Johnson, and even The New Yorker (see the cartoons) tends? Traditions, like Audrey herself, have an atavistic gene that expresses itself when the civilization it carries is imperiled. As was Rome under the increasingly mad, or corrupt Caesars, as were gouty English royalty in Dr. Johnson's era, during the American Revolution, as are we now as The Wealthy Bear it Away, and the addled masses, around the globe, react and revolt, with the Duck Dynasty Patriarch needing as much help on Family Governance and Family Dynamics as anyone else, as does Trump. And on such "governance," of the grand self within the grand family, and grand family within the broken polity, that the future of our world depends, contested by billionaires and those who serve or follow.

Now, if you will excuse me I must cage enough for another bottle, "the hair of the dog." Failed as a literary critic, failed as a Morals Tutor, failed as a protege of The Happy Tutor,  Dungeon Master to the Stars in Wealth Bondage, may I at least succeed as a Beggar before old age sets in and indigence is friendless and wineless? And so now I: "Pray, Kind Sir, step in here for a moment behind the Dumpster. Let me have a word with you on the QT.  I know you are well connected with Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Geneva, London, the Gulf States. I, though you might not know it to look at me now, am a learned man, a moral man, a wise man, a blameless man, virtuous. These very rags bear witness to my integrity. I have never sold out for the money, or prostituted my talent. I have chosen not to bathe, or hose off, because I am me, the human animal, authentic and incorruptible. Surely, you must know Maecenas? Caesar? Gates? Zuckerberg? Soros? Adelson, Thiel? Might you introduce me? To improve their taste or morals? Mentor their children? Prepare their heirs? Slit a throat? Prosecute a case? Keep secrets? Procure a mistress? Reduce taxes? Build social capital by buying an election? There is nothing that is not ennobled by my Patron's wealth. Nothing no matter how vile need be hidden from me. I have seen it all, and done worse. Pray, Sir, how are your own children doing? Could I prepare them Sir? Can you at least spare a quarter? Just one dime, Sir, and I will let you pass."

How The Most Trusted Advisors To Concentrated Wealth can Now Capitalize on the Utter Failure of their Professional Actions and Worldview

Tutor and Master Jack are both Morals Tutors to the world's wealthiest, and at times have been Privy Counselors handling the Confidential Dirty Work, and noted procurers, for the King's pleasure. Neither judges those served. What happens in Wealth Bondage stays in Wealth Bondage. Both are as loyal to their Master or Mistress as a dog sleeping on the foot of the bed. Jack says it is his Fiduciary Responsibility. For Tutor, it is a noble tradition as old as fealty, and deference to "degree." The question now is how best to serve dynastic wealth in troubled times. Tess has noticed "the help" on their spare time following Ferguson, Dallas, Brexit, Trump, Sanders, Black Lives Matter, White Genocide, Le Pen, the Alt-Right. She sees Seal Team Seven, armed, trained as insurgents and assassins, and wonders in her paranoid moments if any would betray her. She has read in The Economist that the old globalist game is effectively over. "We," the global managerial class, whose science of justice is economic equations have over played our hand. Few have prospered. Many have suffered. Ecosystems are dying. Water is rising. Things are getting out of control. There seems to be no way to fix it. And we brought it on ourselves. Tess confers behind closed doors with Master Jack. Surely, there must yet be some way to quell discontent, while creating a Dynasty that will last at least one hundred years, like a great flourishing silver beech, rooted in soil, tended by the peasants, the loyal servants, the dispossessed, the roots among the fertile bones?

Tutor's views are very different. Not "Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves" as Jack speaks it sadly, shaking his head, and treating it as business opportunity to position his practice as the solution, but as an eternal moral admonition, like, "Ashes to ashes; dust to dust." Or, "Remember, Caesar thou art mortal." Tutor has seen Rome rise and fall, the Tudors come and go, the Bourbons rise and fall. He saw the Magna Carta signed after (as Master Jack ruefully notes) a failed regency. He saw Washington's and Jefferson's slaves freed. He saw the Confederacy fall, and the highest flower of Southern chivalry slain. (Yes, he served in the Big House with Tom and Mammy, and fled on foot with them when it burned.)

With the sorrowful wisdom of failed states, Kingdoms, and Empires destroyed, he is Preparing the Heir, Audrey. He instructs her in Catholic Social Doctrine. (Find the face of God in those who are broken and have least). In Stoicism: there is no happiness or suffering but thinking makes it so. In the riffs of naked Diogenes from his Dumpster, accosting Alexander the Great. In the historical realities of evolution and revolution. In her toybox, as the one valuable present from him to her is a Russian Doll, with mommas stacked inside mommas, down the tiny smallest one. It is his treasure. It was a gift to him from the Tsar's youngest daughter, who died in the pit, with her whole dynastic family,  her vest and petticoats sewn with diamonds, the bullets ricocheting, until at last one found her heart. Yes, Rasputin, the most trusted advisor and Secular Priest had more influence with the Tsar, and had more lovers among the ladies of the court, a fuller beard, and a better claim to a divine call (with his degree in Divinity), but then as now Tutor, a child in spirit himself, was best with the little ones.

Audrey is being prepared as an heir to own, rule and save us all, if history's wheel next pauses on tyranny. If we are to be ruled by persons, with laws flexible to the will of those in charge, those with most, let that person be a good person, wise and virtuous, bred to the task.  For that Tutor prepares her. Yet, as Frost noted about foliage, "Nothing gold can stay." If Fortune's wheel must turn, as it ever will, and the highest fall and the lowest rise, as always has been, Audrey to be prepared must be able to fend for herself. Waiting on tables, walking dogs, serving as crew on a sailing ship, hiding out in the woods eating berries and bugs. For those roles, too, he prepares her. "Naked we come into the world; naked we shall leave it." "Life," he tells her at bedtime, whispering secrets, "is like the sparrow who flies from one end of the lighted warm fellowship hall, and out the other. Here for a moment, from darkness to darkness." Audrey knows the difference when she hears Tutor talk like this, as when he reads dark fairy tales, about children abandoned in the woods, or strangled in a castle, so different from the preaching in Chapel, or Master Jack encouraging her to be a good little girl and work on her "four capitals," and not stick out her tongue.

Will Tess, too, know the difference?

To find the face of God, look up?

Several years ago, as a new Board Member for Interfaith Worker Justice, I was asked to give a talk on philanthropy to the leaders of the worker centers. Having no idea what a worker center was, I showed up with my usual slide deck, "Creating Inspired Legacies for Highest Capacity Donors." Worker Centers, it turns out out, support the poorest and most beaten down nonunion employees in industries like agriculture, food services, hospital care, and poultry plants. Workers self organize to protest sexual and physical abuse, intolerable working conditions, and "wage theft" ( being stiffed on wages by employers who know the precarious worker has no recourse for redress). So, there I was in a small room with maybe 13 workers, the only white person in the room, one of the few without Spanish. An African American man, maybe 37, with grizzled features, hands scarred, with more than one missing front tooth, a worker in a poultry plant, in SC, sat to my left, as I went through the deck all about the needs, yearnings, and unfulfilled aspirations of the world's wealthiest. How hard it is to be very rich, as our faith traditions say it is! At that moment, I heard from him, and others in the room, "Amen." I improvised on St. John Chrysostom, an early Church Father, influenced by the Stoics. "Grace like the sun shines on us all; like rain, it falls on us all." Again, "Amen."

So, I identified with Patricia Angus's recent article at Wealth Management. That "occasional essay" (written to an occasion, as if  informally improvised, though artful) begins with her leaving a high level meeting, at some hotel in some foreign country, of advisors to the world's wealthiest. In such conclaves, over-educated advisors in bondage to wealth, endlessly ask each other, "What is true wealth?" only to conclude that if the client is to have it he or she must hire the Wise and Virtuous Counselor. A shtick like any other; mine (to get naked behind the Dumpster at the Corner of Wealth and Bondage, for spare change) is not much better.  She finds the wisest on true wealth to be the taxi driver, as I found the most gracious among the poorest.

How far do our sympathies extend? When we say "we," whom do we include? Is our "we" demarcated by a zip code, or gated community, by a neighborhood, state, or nation state, or by wealth rating, a gender, a color? When those who have most take the jobs out of Flint, and create a factory in India, and then reason that their philanthropy should go to India, too, because that is where they made the wealth, and that is where a life can be saved cheapest, what will become of those whose lives here have been destroyed by "creative destruction"? What recourse do they have? Trump, Sanders, riots, violence, feckless social organizing, worker centers,C food stamps, crumbs from the philanthropic table....

"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice" (MLK). Patricia is the first person I have heard from within the world of family governance for dynastic wealth to extend the conversation about governance back to the polity. What kind of society do we want? We, including the taxi drivers, the poultry plant workers, the Black Lives Matter protesters, the dynastic wealth holders, those who serve them, the alt right? Do we have a social compact, still, or only a global market? Do we need bigger government or smaller? Left or right? Or, do we need better governance? A "parliament," where people not only issue sound bites, but reason with one another towards an inclusive public good?

When democracy seizes up, the next stage, says Aristotle, who would know, is the strong leader who can drive change regardless. Tyrant is a harsh word. I would prefer to imagine Audrey, our once and future Queen, who, prepared by the Happy Tutor, will own rule, and save us all, with love, wisdom, mercy, and justice. People take good care of their own, whether a dog or a loyal subject.

Earn Rule Save

Returning to Audrey's room, Tutor finds her in Joan of Arc mode, helmet on, sword drawn. "Noble Tutor," she says, regally, pointing with the tip of her plastic broadsword to the forlorn dog in the photo. "This dog needs food! She has been neglected. No dog should suffer! Right, Rex?" Rex is whining and cowering, picking up on his owner's dire mood. "We must save these dogs!" Fortunately, having thought ahead for once, and not used his own fallible judgement, having gone direct to Momma, Tutor is prepared. "Yes, the dogs of New Delhi will be saved. But first, we must formulate a plan. I have taken the liberty of approaching Momma on this matter directly...."

"You talked to Momma, about the dogs? Directly?," asks Audrey. "I did, yes," says Tutor puffed up with the reflected majesty of a trusted advisor who has access to the powers that be, directly. "What did Momma say?," asks Audrey. Tutor hems and clears his throat, enjoying his positional power as one who has direct access. A Wise Counselor, in possession of the Answers to Life's Riddles!, which it is now his privilege to impart to the young. All Audrey need do is listen and be schooled.

Whack, goes Audrey's sword on Tutor's shin. "Ouch," goes pompous, Tutor, "That really hurt." "Speak up, yon Varlet, when I speak to you, as your future Queen." "Yes, Princess." Whack, whack, whack, goes Audrey's plastic sword. "Thou shalt never ever refer to me as Princess, that is demeaning, I am Audrey!" "Yes, Pumpkin." "What did Momma say about saving dogs?" "She said you may, but....." "But what?," asks Audrey. "Momma gave me three words. And she said we have to figure it out ourselves, ok?" "Three words, like 'Abracadabra please and thank you?" "No, besides that's five words." "Tell me what my Momma said, Tutor!"

Tutor loves being a Tutor. He loves dispensing knowledge, wisdom and virtue to young minds in formation. He feels the dignity of his high calling, as a pedagogue and moralist. He draws himself up to his full height. His right arm goes out straight. His index finger, for pointing things out, goes up straight at a right angle to his extended arm. Now, holding his portentous silence, his face as impassive as a Butler's, as Audrey fidgets impatiently, he pumps his arm like a piston, on a mechanical man, forward and back. His upright index finger moves so close to Audrey's nose it makes her eyes cross, then back out, then in. Then, in his most pompous, teacherly voice, like a panelist at a World Synod of Wise Counselors, he intones: "Earn, Rule, Save." "Wait, Audrey says, "What are you saying? It is supposed to be Own, Rule, Save. Look! It is on my t-shirt, see? And it is on my flag." She points to her toybox over which the Audrey flag is, indeed, flying.

Now Tutor and Audrey must puzzle it out, as heroes might who have consulted the Oracle at Delphi, prior to waging war, only to find the cryptic utterance baffling. "She obviously knows the real motto," says Audrey. "It is on the shield in the great hall, behind her throne. It is on the Castle's stationary, business cards, and Annual Report. It is in our Constitution that Master Jack wrote up, and we all signed with the great seal, in red wax. In fact, it is on the great seal, too. 'Own Rule Save.' Now, Momma is just going and changing it? You can't change the Constitution just like that. We would need to talk to Mildred in PR. We would have to get more parchment. We would have to get buy-in from all our stakeholders, including me, Tutor. Momma can't just go changing things. Our Values, once we sort the Values Cards, and get it down to three, and write them down, are fundamental to all we do. You said that when we made our Mission Statement. We judge all our stuff by it. We hold ourselves accountable to it. You said it was our 'lodestar,' and you showed me our moral compass, made of brass, and how it always pointed to the lodestar, remember? And you moved the lodestar around and the compass spun and spun. Now you just go changing it? That is not fair. And it is making me very confused. This is the doing of Grownups! They always wreck everything. And how does this save any dogs?" Audrey sits down, upset, her sword cast aside, her helmet askew.

"Well, the official motto is one thing, of course, and that is our moral compass long term, as you point out. One day you shall inherit, own, rule, and save the earth and all things in it, thank God! But for now you own nothing...."

"I do so; I own Rex. And my toybox and everything in it."

"Momma changed only one word. Which?"

"She changed Own to Earn."

"Why earn?"

"To make fun of me! Because I don't earn anything. I am just a kid. She is saying I can't rule anything or save anything until I grow up, and Momma dies. And I don't want Momma to ever die! I love Momma." Audrey goes to her dark place, the night terrors. And Tutor knows he must bring her back to the daylight.

"Momma loves you, too, kid, and she knows what is best. If she said Earn, she means you can earn. She told me more, too." 

"What?," asks Audrey through tears that come and go in childhood, like showers on a sunny day.

"Momma said she would 'consider any reasonable plan.'"

"For saving dogs?"

"Maybe she meant a plan for earning the money yourself, I think, to save dogs. The more you earn the more you save! Cinchy! Earn a lot. Save a lot of dogs! The more you earn, the more you save."

Audrey is a lucky kid; she knows Momma loves her, even as busy as Momma is. Earn Rule Save. A new secret motto, just for now. Own Rule and Save for the long term. Earn Rule Save for now. But how? It is time to get magic markers, the drawing pad, to work on the plan. But, of course, no plan is valid without empirical research first. 

The Understanding

Scourging for Tutor, given or gotten, is literally another day at the office.  What came after is what hurt, a closed door session with Tess. As a mother, and force of nature in her own right, she anatomized Tutor's failings as teacher, man, and servant. As she spoke, Tutor visualized a tree, boughs, branches, twigs, with leaves. Each leaf was a lacerating point. As if on recto and verso of a sheet of Audrey's poster paper, on verso he saw a Roman scourge, with handle for the trunk, and leather thongs for the boughs. The leaves were brass stars, pointed. Where the handle goes, or the trunk of the tree, Tess made the main point: He put Audrey at risk. Had she fallen, as she might well have, with her would have gone the last, best hope for life on earth. Who will own, rule, and save if she were gone? Had he asked first about the trampoline, permission might or might not have been granted, but as sure as can be, it would never have been a cheap one, or positioned on the top turret. "Why do you think we have a gym, Tutor, with proper pads under the horse, or parallel bars? Why does the Castle employ spotters?" Tess, of course, was right, each brass star penetrating to bone.

Tutor as a professional in the art of inculcating morals knows that the lash can be the instrument of correction, torture, or execution, when wielded with intent. So, he listens for the verdict. Will it be, "Don't let this ever happen again?" Will it be a spell in solitary? Breaking stone, deep under the Castle, inside the walls, in darkness, in the dreaded Quarry, from which the Castle has risen for centuries, built by the condemned? Exile with hope of reprieve? Or, worse?


As you reflect on what you would do, as a mother, if you were a mother, and Audrey were your own child, perhaps it is important to ask where Audreys go, when they grow up. At 9.5 years old an Audrey can build a tree house with saw, nails, hammer. She can run faster than most boys. She is taller than most boys. In Audrey's own case, she can fly - with help, though not for long. At 10? 11? 12? By 13 she will not touch a hammer. By 14 she will be competing in math, science, English, languages, for the grades and scores. By 21 she will be graduating. By 25 she will be an attorney, executive, a hedge fund manager, an aid to a Senator. She will wear, most likely, a business suit to work. Whatever men can do she will do it as well or better. To repeat: What men can do. What men can do. What men can do.


Back in the late 1700's, exiled from some delicate situation in France or England, as Tutor is ever exiled from this or that dynastic family, for insubordination, he found himself on the Plantation, with Tom and Mammy, competing with Tom for the position of the Most Trusted Advisor, but Mammy was right up there, too. On certain days, she was more Trusted than Tom. But Tom and Mammy both spoke better British English than Master, who cursed, spat tobacco, and swaggered in word and deed. Every inch the Dynast in silk britches and waistcoat. Yet, Tutor, listening as he would, at the hedge around the Hush Arbor, would hear voices, including Mammy's and Tom's in a wholly different idiom. Overheard, not heard. Not British English. Not the idiom of Master. And songs too, Gospel hymns. Those could cross over into Church.


Where do the Audreys go at 11? And up.

Tutor has forbidden knowledge, maybe it comes with age. But he has stood outside so many doors, listening to womens' secret voices. The Judges, the CEOs, the Hedge Fund Managers, the women who beat the boys at whose game.  No other way to rise.  And the boy's game is, in a Free Country, in a Free Market, what? Wealth Bondage Rebooted to do the Most Good, as you should know from reading this blog. And, so Tutor has been told and as he teaches: "There is no 'outside' of Wealth Bondage." Around the growing boy close shades of the charnel house, wrote Wordsworth, or words to that effect, and that was around a boy. Around the Audreys close the sound of male voices, male tests, male patterns, male ladders of success, metrics, until they are as good as the boys or better at the boys' own game, insuring that the game that oppresses and empowers us all will never change.

The time will come, when Audreys will not learn to sound like a man. When she will not write about "mansplaining" in the NYT in idioms drawn from Horace, through Dryden, to Ben Johnson, to EB White, to her teachers in prep school, to her editor. Women can, in a public forum, condemn how men sound if but only if they sound like well bred men doing it. That is a truth that Tutor knows from standing outside the room where women speak as women, in their own polyphonous voices about family, love, wealth, a dog, a garden, about living things. The Audreys do not dissapear. They learn to pass among men, as did Tom or Mammy among Master and his peers. That is the price, and that is how injustice is confirmed, in black robes, blind, male or female. In passing into men's world, in lending themselves to the construction and preservation of that edifice of stone on stone, plumb, level and true, an invincible fortress, what remains of who they once were, or could have become? A child inside the Judge, perhaps, as in a Dungeon, waiting.

Not that Tutor is any better as insider/outsider. As Tess notes, he has the mind of a nine year old. His is the line of the Fool, bringing into the Dynast's world the voice of the subordinated, to inoculate the powers that be against what would subvert them. To put them in touch with who they are, and in ostracizing, beating, scorning, imprisoning, exiling him, as the Lord of Misrule, to find themselves, as in a distorting mirror, only made more perfect.

The Fool may speak for the Rabble, but in the King's ear. He is loyal to the King. What the Fool knows is that the King is the head of the Body Politic, and that no part can gangrene without the King suffering ultimately unto death. For women, for Mammy, for Tom, for the Fool, for the Most Trusted, for the Consigliere, for the Secular Priest, for all these roles there is a price and a benefit, a debt of loyalty, a code of conduct, limits to what can be said,  confidentiality, silence, or tact, or parabolic deflection. The art of writing well inside a structure like the Castle, or corporation, under surveillance, within a hierarchy of roles, duties and privileges, always at risk of being deported back to the fields or to the middle class, or to the status of a woman in a kitchen, who can only nurture the living things within hands reach. 


Those who betray their country, in positions of power, try the whistle blower for treason. Which way is up is apparent to all, as the miscreant confesses at trial with the media in attendance. Bearing witness against himself. Everyone sees truth broken to lie like the judge and jury. The moral understood by all is the lie-in-power does not exist, and the truth should never have said it did.


So, there is Tess and there is Tutor. Outside the closed door, trying to hear, is Audrey, too. How do you think it will go? How do you think it should go? Momma wants to keep Audrey safe. She is a menace, Audrey is, to herself and others. Even in Mary Janes and a party dress, she is no Belle-In-Training. Tutor can easily be replaced, by Master Jack, or another. With enough effort A Qualified Wisdom Professional could teach her to pass among the powers that be as one of them. To be a Good Trust Beneficiary, making no trouble for The Bank of Wealth Bondage, and not driving up the Cost of Doing Business, so the assets in the Trust she will inherit will continue to grow and grow for the benefit of Future Beneficiaries, and for the Bank as their Faithful Steward. Audrey could yet become normal. Once Tutor is gone, come the prescriptions, the therapists, the Secular Priests, comes depression, again; comes the bed she will not leave; comes clenched jaws, again; comes hunger strike; comes the doctor, comes the iv, and drip drip drip of happiness, in Bondage to Wealth, through the vein tapped.


So as you are wondering about Tess and her verdict, maybe you should recall a bit about her love life. It is really none of your business, and it is sickening, but it is important to our story. She has been with 50 men in total. One in college, her senior year, a nerdy guy she fumbled about with, and dated for a time, and almost married, until she decided to see a bit of the world first. And 49 in one night, her night of triumph, when she had broken the glass ceiling among the traders, as the only woman on the floor of Wealth Bondage, taking down the French Bourse with one intuitive trade, as easy for her as playing the flute. 49 men in an hour or two, as she lay, having been feted with campaign toasts, unconscious. One of the 49, we will never know which, is Audrey's father. Can you see why Tess is so good with a scourge? Can you imagine how she thirsts for revenge? PTSD. Her hand with the scourge, as the eyes blur with tears of pent up rage, what she might know is only that this is a man's back, a man who himself works for Wealth Bondage, as once for the Empires of Rome, England, or the old South. All he himself knows is that his role as Fool, as insider/outsider, is in the King or Queen's inner sanctum, where love is, and vulnerability, and hope, and laughter, and fun, if hope and love, fun and laughter are even possible there. It is a dangerous game, and always was, like being Alexander The Great's surgeon, in an age before anesthetic. You don't get to leave too many of the Royal Family dead on the table, without it being a career limiting move. Not all jokes, no matter how healing they are meant to be, are welcome; not all are funny. "Truth," as a wise fool once said, "is a bitch that must to kennel." The awkward silence, in Tutor's trade generally ends badly. And, after being scourged so expertly, and thoroughly, after he has said, contritely, "Yes, M'am, I understand M'am," Tutor feels the long pause lengthen.


And here is how it ends: "Next time, ask."


Outside the door, Tutor meets Audrey, looking up. "I got you in trouble?" "I got myself in trouble, kid," Tutor says. "Momma loves you and she wants to keep you safe. If we don't cause any more trouble for awhile, I think maybe we can get another trampoline, too, a good big one this time." Audrey claps.  "But," Tutor continues,  "Momma says we have to set it up in the gym. Momma knows you will learn how to fly one way or the other. She just wants to make sure you don't kill yourself in the process. OK?"


Diogenes, who taught Rabelais, who taught Erasmus, whose Praise of Folly has the illustrations of The Happy Tutor, that led Tess to Tutor, when she found the manuscript in the Castle's library, asked to be buried face side down, so when the world turned turned upside down, he would be facing right side up. When Trusted Advisors are under Audrey's heel, the world will be saved, as Mother Mary is envisioned crushing the head of the Serpent. Momma is on board with the plan. At least I hope she is. Audrey won't be able to save the world, unless she inherits it, and she can't inherit it unless Tess owns it, and she can't own it until she beats the boys in Wealth Bondage at their own game. And becomes one of them in the process? I think not.


As Tutor takes Audrey's hand outside Tess's closed door, they can hear the sound of Tess's miraculous flute. Audrey in her faded pink, grubby Keds, does a skipping little dance, not a minuet, not a waltz, not any dance you could learn from a dancing master. A dance like that of the whales and the goats, and the seagulls, and all the living unthinking things that dance to Tess's flute, as long ago to Pan's before Reason ruled the earth, and the species winked out one by one, in the Anthropocene Era, where everything is always under control, and getting better, on time and on budget, as per the annual plan, in line with forecasts, and analysts' expectations.

"Thank you God for women," says Tutor to himself, full of yearning for what he cannot have. He has no chance with Tess, but who can blame him for swaying to her music?

Fair price to pay for so much fun

Having put Audrey in jeopardy, you will agree that Tutor deserves a degree of punishment he will not soon forget.  Insubordination, use of unapproved athletic equipment, potential injury to the only hope the world has at this point, and other failings as well. So, there Tutor is, hands manacled above his head, on the whipping post in his own Dungeon, rope around his waist, feet shackled, white shirt split open. Doing the honors, with the scourge, his rival, Master Jack, a Dungeon Master to the Stars in his own right, but commanding higher rates, as a Yale Grad and Corporate Fiduciary.  You might feel some compassion for Tutor, but don't. Endorphin high, he gets in the zone. "Jack is a big pussy; I scourge myself harder for my own sins." And in truth, Jack is making a big show of it. Tutor's back is all bloody, the skin in strips, but this is not Jack's best effort. He is holding back as a Professional Courtesy, and because he knows that turnabout is fair play, and when the turns change, it will be Jack on the whipping post, and Tutor wielding the bloody scourge.

Later, to help her process the moral - unapproved activity only ends badly - Audrey is allowed to visit Tutor in his cell, where he lies on his stomach, on the pallet of his cot, his back red like raw hamburger. "Are you ok?, Tutor?, she asks. I am so sorry. It was my fault." "Not your fault, kid, I knew it would come to this. I am the Grownup, right?" "A Silly Grownup!" "Thank you, Audrey, I am a very Silly Grownup and always will be, as long as I get to teach kid like you. My back doesn't hurt so much. My head does, though." Audrey can see a big goose egg on the back of his skull where he slammed into the wall. It is too late for ice, and he didn't have any anyway, so it swelled up, and looks even worse than it hurts. Audrey reaches out with a finger tip, but does not touch it, because it looks so sore. "It is ok, kid. I will heal. It is not like when your rip your shirt, or something. My head heals itself. Sometimes I bang it on stone walls just for practice. In case I ever have to in real life." Audrey laughs.

"That was the funnest fun I ever had! I really did fly, Tutor, I could see my flag on the pole, so close I could touch it!" "You will always remember." "Always! I will."

Audrey bends to kiss Tutor, a big smack, on the center of his forehead. She rises to do her prima ballerina pose (Momma took her to the ballet in Paris), hands with fingertips touching above head making a graceful arc, twirl on point, in faded pink Keds, with the white rubber tips. Then the red haired ballerina in blue jeans exits in long leaps, as if she could fly. And now she knows she truly can.

The Trampoline Incident

While Audrey is away on her grand tour of Europe, Tutor saves his meager pay, and empties his savings, to buy her a welcome home present. She who cannot manage to fly with feathered wings, or like a flying squirrel, shall have a trampoline! For what he can afford, it will not be much, only about 5 feet in diameter, with a tiny patch a kid can jump on in the middle, and fragile fold down aluminum legs, but it is rated for a child up to 85 pounds and Audrey is only 62 pounds. Besides beggars can't be choosers, and at $110, plus shipping, it represents 3 months pay, net of the charges he pays for room and board, and the interest at 24% APR on the courtesy employee credit card at the Castle's company store, for sundries. Tutor knows full well that a trampoline is dangerous. A child could jump and fall on the floor, or hit her head on the ceiling and knock herself out, or worse, she might catch a foot in the springs, and break a leg, which might never heal, and she might limp the rest of her life. So, this is a sin  committed in cold blood. The trampoline is ordered, arrives, and is secreted in the Dungeon, behind the panel where over the centuries the Dungeon Masters have scribbled their names, or left their bloody mark, as hand prints, in defense of freedom or whatever ideal it might have been at the time, like fealty, fiduciary duty, or the great chain of being, to preserve whatever dynasty is hegemonic, and whatever patron pays the bills.

When Audrey returns, pent up, and excited to see Rex, and even happy to see Tutor, he whispers to her that he has a present for her, but it has to be their secret. It is way up in the Castle, on the highest battlement, on the very tip of the highest turret. When they climb to the top of the winding, cobwebbed stair, there it is: the trampoline glinting silver in the sun. "You get to fly, after all, kid!" Yet, honestly, it is a disappointment at first. Audrey can bounce and jounce, but her highest elevation is only about three feet. "This is not flying! I am going to really fly!" And she scuttles up the battlement wall, until she balances on the wall, about 20 feet above the terrace. "O, No!," says Tutor, "This is getting out of hand." Audrey is on the edge of the parapet, with a straight drop below to the rocks, 15 stories down. The white capped waves crash and break on jagged stone. The Audrey flag, "Own Rule Save" is flying straight out, in a high wind from the turret's flagpole. And there is Audrey windmilling her arms, as she teeters on the wall. "I'm gonna fall! I'm gonna fall! Help! Save me!"

Tutor races across the stone terrace. Will he get there in time? Audrey leaps over his head and lands at maybe 100 miles an hour on the tiny canvas patch at the center of the trampoline at a 45 degree angle. Knowing the laws of physics, you know what happens next. Her trajectory makes a right angle, 45  degree slant coming in at 100 miles an hour, from a height of 20 feet, energy absorbed by the springs, with some slight loss to friction, and her 65 pound body, a missile, shooting up at a 45 degree angle at 93 miles an hour, headed directly for the facing stone wall of the Castle. "I am flying!" The trampoline is destroyed, bent to the floor; Audrey is at her apex. Tutor is like the center fielder in the final game of the World's Series, with the Series on the line, final pitch, hit to center field, over the wall? Not quite, Tutor manages to hit the wall, leaping, with both hands extended to snatch his charge from the air, the back of his head clobbering the stone.  Together, they drop to the deck. Soft landing.  Audrey is squirming. "I did it, Tutor, I flew!" Mission accomplished; everyone safe!

Unfortunately, though, the Trampoline Incident is caught on the Castle's surveillance system, and there will soon be hell to pay.

Audrey's in Europe

Momma concluded that Audrey is living in a bubble, in the Castle, and has taken her off to Europe, to see the sights. Audrey is always surrounded, though, for her own safety, like a Presidential Candidate, or the once and future Queen of the World, by the seven burly members of Seal Team Seven, average height of 6'4', wearing dark glasses, hands inside vest coat pockets of their dark suits, eyes raking the crowd, the buildings, the sky. I am afraid that Audrey at 3' 6," not including the 11 inches of red hair standing straight up, is going to return home thinking that Europe is comprised of seven silver-toned belt buckles.

Tutor did not get to go; he is back in timeout for the Pancake Episode, and also because he had the temerity to try to teach Tess how to write a libretto to go with the music she improvises on the flute, as the whales dance. She said, "If I had wanted a writing coach, Tutor, I would have hired one. Perhaps a Nobel Laureate, or a Pulitzer Prize Winner. I am sure someone might find your suggestions welcome. I do not. You are here for now because you are good with children, if only because you yourself have the mind of a nine year old. Now, I must pack for Europe. Dismissed!" 

So, Tutor says, with not much else to do, other than play Go Fish! with Master Jack, is giving private tutorials pro bono publico to Molly Flanders the upstairs maid. "She can't write for shit," Tutor says, "but she has some great stories to tell. And we can collaborate on a few more. As a social entrepreneur, her memoirs of life in The Castle, with our distinguished guests, should made good reading, if you like tabloids. For a few hundred thousand dollars she may agree not to publish any. The pictures though, should command a higher price." Master Jack says that a Trusted Advisor is worthy of his or her hire, and the main thing the biggest clients pay up for is confidentiality.  Tutor will make sure Molly either gets good money, a promotion, or as he says, "sleeps with fishes," a phrase he learned from the Consigliere Tess had before Master Jack.

It is a dark world, the world of great wealth, often operating in secret, accountable to no one. It can corrupt even the best. It may be getting to Tess, though I hope not. She may just have her moods, not surprisingly given the pressure she is under to bankrupt the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the PSTD from her early days, as the only woman, on the trading floor in Wealth Bondage.

I know Tutor misses Audrey. I wonder if she misses him, too? Maybe not, but I bet she misses Rex, the Rescue Dog, who has been pining for her, off his food. He has abandonment issues, from his days in the pound. I do, too, actually, but I am not being paid to write about me.

The Icarus Incident(s)

Tutor was exiled to his cell, as you know, for the Pancake Episode. The cell is about ten feet below sea level, but the ceilings are high, and about twenty feet above his cot, is a small slit window, just enough to dimly light his dank room. All of a sudden, Tutor sees a shape, all white feathers, a big ball, flailing, shoot past the slit. Then in the Castle pure pandemonium! Sirens, shouting, feet on stairs, then his cell is unlocked. All hands to search for Audrey! Seal Team Seven scrambles the copter, rubber dingies are out in the tossing waves. Fortunately, Audrey somehow cleared the rocks out of which the Castle rises, and managed to hit water. So, now after hot soup, and several hours with solvent, to dissolve the epoxy and scrape off or cut out as many of the feathers as possible, Audrey is safely in her bed, with her Tutor sitting on the bed's edge, debriefing her. As when NASA rockets fail, the first question is: "What have we learned?"

Audrey's red hair is clumped, with big chunks cut out, but still there are bits of feathers, and some big clumps of hair glued together. Audrey is impassive, her eyes focused straight ahead, like a Guard at Buckingham palace, fingers clutching the bedspread, up under her chin.

Tutor: "You were reading that book I gave you?"

Audrey: (Eyelids blink assent.)

Tutor: "Bullfinch's Mythology?"

Audrey: (Eyelids blink assent.)

Tutor: "About Daedelus and and his kid, Icarus, and the maze, and how Icarus flew up and out?"

Audrey: (Eyelids blink assent.)

Tutor: "And you figured that if you did not fly too close to the sun?"

Audrey: (Face front, eyes swiveling to Tutor's.)

Tutor: "So what was different? He flew; you fell."

Audrey: (Eyes front, small smile dawning.)

Tutor: "Yes?"

Audrey: (Loud, arms flailing above her head) "Wax!"

Tutor: "Correct. Wax. You know in the Dungeon where in the old days I used to get to boil people alive, I have this big iron pot over a fire grate. I bet we could melt down a lot of candles....."

Audrey: (Eyes swiveling, face processing, brow furrowed.)

Tutor: "Of course you are all bruised up, so maybe we should have someone else do a test flight."

Audrey: (Pause, eyes lighting up.) "Master Jack!"

Tutor: "That would be my thought, yes."

Audrey: (Giggling) "He won't."

Tutor: "He will."

And so it went. Tutor presented the matter to Master Jack as a matter of Trust. Jack could demonstrate that he really is the Most Trusted Advisor, and Tess would surely appreciate Audrey being spared another life threatening fall. And Audrey, who is only a little kid, not a former All American fullback for the Yale Bulldogs, easily cleared the rocks and hit water. And surely the wax is at least a possible advantage, over epoxy. So, soon, Audrey is tearing open her feather pillows, and Jack is immersed neck deep in wax, neither too hot nor too cold. Seal Team Seven were more than happy to launch the copter, just in case Jack flew too close to the sun. You might think all this ends with Jack in a sling, in his bed. But, no, there is more. He is in a sling, but that is not how it ends.

Tutor and Audrey have now worked out a new aeronautical hypothesis. Wax would have to be beeswax, and they don't have any. But what about a Flying Squirrel? Take a blanket, and tie the four corners to Jack's feet and hands..... So Tutor and Audrey explain the plan to Jack. Jack groans, and tries to roll over, but it hurts too much. Still, the the life of a most  trusted advisor is one of constant self sacrifice.  Jack would lay down his life, as he has often told Tess, to save her or Audrey, if the time ever comes when the people in the middle class, off the island, ever invade it. His will be the last life taken, once the middle class gets past Seal Team Seven. So, in time, when he has healed up, we can see how he does as a flying squirrel. At least, he will not need to be simmered in the Dungeon's iron cauldron to remove feathers the next time.

Entrusting Audrey with the Fate of the World

I am not a specialist in dynastic trusts, but I am trying to learn more. Presumably, all of Audrey's inheritance, comprising most of the world's wealth, will be in a perpetual trust, to serve her and her descendants. I know Master Jack is a Secular Priest, a wise and virtuous man (it says so in his professional bio, and he has written several books, some on virtue, some on wisdom, and some on both; some drawing on Eastern Religion, some on the Judeo-Christian Tradition; some on Dante, some on Virgil, some on Chaucer, and no one has ever said he isn't wise and virtuous, nor questioned his taste; after all he has a high school diploma from Gunnery, and a BA from Yale, graduating with a B average, as an All American fullback for the Bulldogs), who will mentor Audrey to be a better person, but how can a trust beneficiary ever be more than a cost of doing business, a net cash outflow, for the Bank of Wealth Bondage?

With a dynastic trust, isn't the point to serve Assets Under Management and Heirs forever, using accepted corporate protocols, and generating profit comparable with commercial lending, mortgages, credit cards, and payday loans? What will happen, then, when Audrey learns that a controlling interest in all the world's wealth, which she is counting upon to own, rule, and save the world, is actually "administered" for her by Master Jack, in an account she cannot touch? If she pitches a fit, is she then "the designated patient," and Master Jack her wise counsel? When she becomes a "good trust beneficiary," how will that save the world, rather than just making it easier for Wealth Bondage to rule it and her? I have to figure this out, because how, other than in funding a dynastic trust, can Tess's  story end?

I guess, it is fine. You can't change the world. Wealth Bondage pays my bills, too. And if it were not for the cross-subsidy from the Private Client Group, I would not have this job at Gifthub. I would be back to handing out towels in the sauna,  turning tricks behind the Dumpster, or offering moral advice pro bono publico, while squeegeeing car windows outside the Bank of Wealth Bondage.